‘Will find solutions only when we recognise problems’

New Delhi, Nov 16 (PTI): Exhorting auditors to adopt strong and scientific auditing practices, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that audit is an important tool for value addition which helps in recognising problems and finding solutions.
Addressing an event marking the celebrations of first Audit Diwas organised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Tuesday, the Prime Minister also stressed on the importance of data, saying data is information and it will dictate history in the future. He said there was a time when auditing in the country was looked upon with apprehension and dread and ‘CAG vs government’ had become the common thought of system. “…But today, this mindset has changed. Today audit is being considered as an important part of value addition,” he added. Modi said that the non-performing assets (NPAs) of the banking sector had continued to rise because of wrong practices and lack of transparency followed by the earlier regime. You know very well how, in the past, NPAs were brushed under the carpet. However, we have put the truth of the previous governments in front of the country with complete honesty. We will find the solutions only when we recognise the problems , he said.
He said in the past information was transmitted in form of stories and history was written through stories. “But today in the 21st century, data is information, and in the coming times our history will also be seen and understood through data. In the future, data will dictate history,” he said. He also listed out reforms such as contactless customs, automatic renewals, faceless assessments and online applications for service delivery, that have ended unnecessary government interventions.
“When transparency is brought in the system, results are visible,” he said adding India is the world’s third-largest ecosystem for startups and already has 50 unicorns.
Modi said documents, data and files sought by the national auditor, CAG should be provided by government departments.
Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister said the country’s fight against it has also been extraordinary.
“Today, we are running the world’s largest vaccination program. Just a few weeks ago, the country crossed the milestone of 100 crore vaccine doses,” he said.
He also suggested that CAG may study the practices that emerged during this great fight.
Appreciating CAG’s new practice of sharing preliminary findings with government departments before the beginning field audits, he said the combination of the two will give better results.
“CAG has changed rapidly by adopting modern procedures. Today, you are using advanced analytics tools, geo spatial data and satellite imagery,” Modi said.
He expressed happiness that the CAG has overcome the image of a meddlesome busybody fumbling with files.
The Prime Minister also unveiled the statue of SardarVallabhbhai Patel on the occasion. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Girish Chandra Murmu was among those present on the occasion.
Murmu said the day has been chosen to be observed as the first Audit Diwas because it was on November 16, 1860, that the first Auditor General took charge in accordance with the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1858, by merging the accounting departments of the Bengal, Madras and Bombay Presidencies.
“We intend to celebrate this day as Audit Diwas every year, and it will involve a series of events which will help us to rededicate ourselves and to reaffirm our commitment to contribute to good governance, through our continuous quest for excellence in public audit and accounts,” he said.
He further said the CAG is developing an audit process management application which will include all audit processes, streams and activities and shall also be primary system of records for the entire chain of audit.
“Similarly, we are taking action to develop a data linked information system whereby fund flow from Public Financial Management System to Integrated Financial Management System to Voucher Level Computerisation can be harnessed for audit planning so that the dictum of ‘Follow the Rupee’ is fully implemented to give audit assurance to the stakeholders, which means ‘where there is government expenditure, there is audit’,” he said.
Murmu said the CAG has made confident strides with government support towards winning assignments as External Auditor to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome; the World Health Organisation, Geneva; the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Inter Parliamentary Union, Geneva and Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons at Hague, the Netherlands.
The CAG has recently been elected as the Chair of the prestigious Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) for the years 2024 2027.

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